Aspen Skiing Co. has big plans for $23 million makeover at Buttermilk

Construction this summer will create new skier services building, remodel for Bumps

Skiers hang out at the bottom of Buttermilk next to Bumps and the Four Mountain Sports buildings in Aspen on Friday, Feb. 25, 2022. The green building on the right will be replaced with a state-of-the-art, 9,300-square-foot building this summer. It will house all skier services. Bumps, on the left, will be remodeled. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

Aspen Skiing Co. officials have Buttermilk on their mind.

Skico plans to invest $23 million in new and remodeled facilities at the base of the ‘Milk this summer.

“It’s a huge deal, our investment in Buttermilk that’s coming up,” Skico president and CEO Mike Kaplan said during a wide-ranging interview with The Aspen Times last week. “We’re going to greatly improve Bumps. We’re going to greatly improve the rental, ticketing shop experience.”

An aging facility simply known as “the green building” at the center of the base will be scrapped and replaced with a one-story, 9,300-square-foot structure that will house the ticket office, ski and snowboard rentals, ski school, public bathrooms and a large lobby.

A skier exits Bumps at Buttermilk in Aspen on Friday, Feb. 25, 2022. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

The building will be 100% electric, carrying forward Skico’s goal to convert existing facilities and go all-electric with new ones, according to Jeff Hanle, Skico vice president of communications. As Holy Cross Energy incorporates more renewable energy sources of power into its portfolio, it reduces the carbon footprint of its customers.

The ticket office that currently operates in the lower floor in the Bumps building will move to the new building. In its place will be offices for mountain operations, Hanle said.

The stairs that greets people entering the Bumps building will be moved outside, freeing up square footage inside for the expansion of the restaurant and ground floor, Hanle said. Pitkin County approval documents show Bumps will expand by about 2,300 square feet.

Young skiers play in the snow next to the Four Mountain Sports rental building in Aspen at Buttermilk on Friday, Feb. 25, 2022. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

The proposed projects were included in the master plan update approved by the Pitkin County commissioners in 2013. Some parts of the plan were previously pursued.

Skico replaced the temporary Powder Pandas building with a permanent structure called The Hideout in 2014. Improvements were also made to vehicle circulation, pedestrian walkways and landscaping in the parking lot. That was a $10 million project.

“The improvements will create a completely new arrival experience for guests, which was overdue,” Hanle said.

One amenity that was approved in the master plan was a “pipe and park lift” to serve the renowned superpipe and terrain park at Buttermilk. That will not be pursued this summer, Hanle said, but will remain a longer-term consideration.

Skico has applied to get building permits so it can start the work soon after the lifts close in April. It will be a “sprint” to complete the work by opening day for the 2022-23 season, Kaplan said.

There was no specific trigger for the work to be pursued this year, Hanle said. Skico wants to operate four world-class ski areas so it has a long list of projects on its to-do list, he said. This just happened to be Buttermilk’s year.

“We are constantly looking to update our infrastructure,” he said.

Buttermilk plays an underappreciated role in Skico’s lineup. It has gained stature as the longtime host mountain for the Winter X Games. It’s also critical for introducing people to the sport.

“The valley learns to ski at Buttermilk,” Kaplan said. “Families get their quality time at Buttermilk.”

The other big project on Skico’s plate for this summer is phase one of the Pandora’s terrain expansion on Aspen Mountain. Crews will be clearing timber for a new chairlift and trails on the upper east side of the mountain. The chairlift will be installed in summer 2023 and the 153-acre expansion will open for skiing and riding in 2023-24.

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